I’ve spent some time naked in a hot tub with a few men in my life, but I have to admit, one of the most interesting of those men was Barnet Bain. Ok, the hot tub was at Esalen and we weren’t alone (that’s how it rolls in a hot tub at Esalen.)
Barnet was completely himself, honest and open, willing to share any bit of insight he has about filmmaking, storytelling, and the creative process. I was humbled to sit with one of my favorite filmmakers; Barnet’s resume is filled with films that explore the human condition, our quest for peace and understanding (What Dreams May Come, The Celestine Prophecy). On this occasion, he was sharing about the process of bringing a film to live and a bit about his next project, titled Milton’s Secret, which begins production this month and will star Donald Sutherland.
I was frustrated with the trajectory one of my films was taking, and he smiled, nodded, took a deep breath and said, “It will happen, you just have to walk the path, you just have to trust your own ability. This is the moment to not give in; in this space you’re in lies an answer.” He was right. The creative process is rife with opportunity for one to get to know themselves, what they are capable of, and what’s stopping them from going all the way.
This is the theme of his new book The Book of Doing and Being – Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love and Work. The human capacity for creation is immense. We create each and every aspect of our lives from our hearts. Being creative isn’t just about being an artist or a writer, creativity is our essence and once we get out of our own way, let go of our past and clear the path we can create anything.
As Barnet says, “In the world of entertainment, where I have spent my professional life as a writer, director, and producer, creativity is expected. But in reality, every job and vocation is a creative endeavor. In fact, every act is a creative act. A relationship, a business, a screenplay, a dance, an art form, a reality—everything we know and love is a constellation of creative acts. For people today, work and business are the primary channels of creative expression. Work is one of our greatest art forms. And, what we are discovering is that creativity and stress don’t mix. A little creative chaos and tension, yes. But cortisol-inducing stress diminishes the pleasure and productivity that make our workdays feel worthwhile.”
Just how do you actually accomplish this? Fortunately, there are some tangible techniques that allow each on of us to rediscover our creativity. Barnet offers the following suggestions with these two exercises which will clear the path for inspiration, intuition, relaxation, and flow—all integral parts of your creativity toolkit.
- Stop the Function of Your Reality
Even though work and financial responsibilities can feel like a pressure cooker sometimes, we have far more dominion over our emotional and mental states than we realize. This exercise is good for interrupting old habits of thought and feeling and shifting negative moods. It offers an attitude reset whenever you need one, such as when preparing for a presentation or meeting.
- Take three slow, deep breaths to relax.
- Imagine you are slowing everything down. Imagine you are slowing down your brainwaves. Slowing down your blood flow. Slowing down your heartbeat. Slowing down the world.
- Now, imagine that everything has come to a stop. Your brainwaves. Your blood flow. Your heartbeat. Your breathing. Everything has come to a gentle stop.
- After about one minute, slowly come back to your normal pace and rhythm. Refreshed, you will be ready to go about your business…more relaxed, open, and creatively receptive.
In addition to this exercise, you can promote creative relaxation every time you step away from your desk, daydream, have a 10-20 minute nap, or take a walk down a tree-lined street.
- Ask Yourself: Where Are You Coming From?
Just like characters in a movie who rarely know what is motivating their words and actions (known as the subtext running through a script), we often don’t know our deepest selves or who our colleagues are beneath their social personas. When we bring heightened awareness to conditioned modes of thinking and responding, we are better able to break patterns of inflexibility, which allows creativity to emerge and surge.
- Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, especially in times of stress.
- Ask yourself: “Where am I coming from?” or “Where am I going with this?”
- Repeat the question that resonates for you over and over until you sense a bottom line. Write that down.
Even subtle insights into what is operating beneath the surface can create positive changes in our ability to work, create, and collaborate.
The Book of Doing and Being is not a fluffy woo-woo filled with rainbows and unicorns kind of book, it’s about doing the work inside and out. Hence the title doing and being. In his words, has a knack for lifting you up while lovingly giving you a bit of a kick in the rump. He offers practical advice and processes to stretch your mind and move you to places you probably haven’t visited since you were five, places we should all hang out in more often to allow our creativity to flow with ease. Oh, and we should all spend more time in hot tubs where the creative people hang out.
Betsy Chasse is a mom, author, and filmmaker. Her most notable film is What The Bleep Do We Know and her book is Tipping Sacred Cows, visit her website to learn about her other films and books. betsychasse.com
Barnet Bain’s film credits include the Oscar-winner What Dreams May Come; he is currently directing the family drama Milton’s Secret, based on the novel by Eckhart Tolle. He is the author of The Book of Doing and Being: Rediscovering Creativity in Life, Love and Work. barnetbain.com